Katie Boulter ‘expecting an absolute battle’ in clash with Harriet Dart

Katie Boulter is braced for a battle with compatriot Harriet Dart after she recovered from a poor start to beat former Wimbledon semi-finalist Tatjana Maria and set up an all-British second-round tie.

Boulter, seeded for the first time at the Championships, was 4-1 down inside quarter of an hour on Court Three, but showed trademark gutsiness to fight back and earn a 7-6 (6) 7-5 victory in two hours and seven minutes.

Familiar foe Dart is up next on Thursday in what will be their eighth meeting, with the most recent going the way of Boulter in Nottingham last month for her sixth win against the world number 100.

Katie Boulter makes a heart sign with her hands
Katie Boulter set up a battle of Britain (Zac Goodwin/PA)

“Playing a Brit in the UK on the grass is never an easy draw and I’m expecting an absolute battle,” Boulter said.

“I think we both know each other’s games inside-out, back-to-front at this point.

“We’ve played so many matches, but I do have to draw on the last things that I have played with her and use that to my advantage in the next round.

“I think it’s going to be extremely tough. I have a lot of respect for her on this surface. It’s one of her favourite ones. This is actually her home club, she’s been here since she was a tiny tot with her mum.

“It’s exciting. You have two Brits here who are playing some very good tennis. Yeah, she’s someone that’s going to make it very hard for me. I’m going to have to bring my A-game.”

British number two Dart admitted it would be great if the second-round tie could be on one of the show courts.

Dart added: “We’re team-mates, we played big tournaments, we’ve grown up together. We’ve been close.

“Yeah, I mean, it’s always going to be tricky, whoever I play, especially when you play a fellow Brit, but it’s great to see that all of us are doing well and putting us in positions where we do get to play each other, hopefully more so in the latter rounds.

“She’s been having an amazing year. She’s been playing great.

“It would be cool to play on a big court. A lot of people will play this tournament many times and not get the opportunity to play on the most historic court ever.”

Harriet Dart smiles and raises her fist in celebration
Harriet Dart was a straight-sets winner in the first round (Zac Goodwin/PA)

Asked about potentially being on Centre Court, Boulter admitted: “I honestly don’t know.

“Yeah, we’re going to find out. Again, not up to me. We’ll see what happens. Should be a fun match for pretty much everyone involved.”

Home favourite Boulter had backed herself to embrace the pressure of being British number one and the 32nd seed at the All England Club, but was broken immediately in her first round match.

Experienced grass-court specialist Maria won 10 points in a row early in the first set and led 4-1 after 13 minutes.

A lengthy sixth game built up Boulter’s confidence before a number of booming forehands landed to get the break back.

The clash of styles with Boulter’s power versus Maria’s deft touches produced several break point chances, but the opener went to a tie-break, which the 27-year-old from Leicestershire clinched in 56 minutes.

Maria, a surprise semi-finalist in SW19 two years ago, immediately broke at the start of the second.

However, Boulter, with boyfriend Alex De Minaur now in attendance after his first-round win, hit back with a break of her own before another tie-break appeared on the horizon.

The world number 29 had other ideas and a sweetly struck backhand winner on Boulter’s first match point sent her through to the last 16.